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Continuous Method Of Producing Masa Flour - Patent 5558898

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1. Field of the InventionThe present invention is broadly concerned with a method for the preparation of masa flour which eliminates many of the costly, time-consuming, pollution causing steps conventionally carried out in the preparation of such flours. Moreparticularly, it is concerned with a masa preparation method wherein debranned, moisturized and partially cooked grain (e.g., corn or wheat) is subjected to a flash dehydration process in order to quickly dehydrate the debranned grain, which can then bemilled into an acceptable masa flour. In the flash dehydration, high velocity hot air currents having a temperature of from about 600.degree.-1000.degree. F. are employed for the rapid grain dehydration.2. Description of the Prior ArtMasa flour, typically made using food grade corn or wheat, is produced in tremendous quantities in the United States and around the world. Such flour is used to fabricate such familiar products as tortilla chips and taco shells.Despite the demand for masa flour, for the most part it is prepared using very old and time honored techniques. In the first step, whole kernel corn is cooked in a mixture of water and 1% lime up to a temperature of 175.degree.-205.degree. F.,depending upon the hardness of the starting corn and other factors. The corn is then allowed to steep in the lime water for a period of 8-12 hours, in order to allow the lime to penetrate, loosen and partially dissolve the pericarp or bran fraction ofthe corn.The steeped corn is then passed through a corn washer, comprising a perforated, rotatable cylinder equipped with internal water jets, in order to complete the removal of bran and to reduce the pH of the corn to about 6.5-7.5.In the next step, the washed, debranned corn is passed through a stone grinder to mill the corn to a desired particle size and thus complete the flour preparation. The flour may then be appropriately dried for storage, sale and use, or useddirectly. Masa products are typically prepared

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